Monday September 12th


US futures pare losses after Fed's Lockhart remarks

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Monday, as talk of an interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve coming as soon as this month, along with weak oil prices, rattled investors. The Dow Jones index was down some 70 points, while the S&P 500 was down 7 points and the Nasdaq down 22 points, off their lows. Dow futures were down more than 100 points earlier. Futures pared gains after Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart delivered a speech in which he said a "serious discussion" on raising rates is warranted at the central bank's upcoming meeting. On Friday, U.S. markets closed sharply lower, with all three major indexes posting their worst day since June 24, when the U.K. voted to leave the European Union. The sharp plunge in U.S. equities on Friday however was due to concerns that the U.S. Federal Reserve could raise interest rates as soon as this month, following comments made by key officials from the central bank. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said in a speech that low interest rates are increasing the chance of overheating the U.S. economy. Gradually tightening monetary policy is appropriate to maintaining full employment, he added. Meanwhile, Fed Governor Lael Brainard is expected to give a speech at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs at 1.15 p.m. ET, with the topic expected to be about the economic outlook and on monetary policy implications. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari is also due to speak to CNBC on Monday.The poor performance from U.S. markets on Friday added pressure to markets across the world, with both Asia-Pacific indexes and European markets tumbling on Monday due to Fed jitters. The Japanese benchmark index Nikkei 225 ended lower by 1.73 percent, or 292.84 points, at 16,672.92; South Korea's Kospi finished down 2.28 percent, or 46.39 points, at 1,991.48 from levels above 2,040 just last week. In company news, Samsung weighed on the Kospi, with its shares dropping 6.98 percent, extending losses from the previous session after the South Korean firm and several airlines urged all customers to stop using the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones amid concerns over fire-prone batteries. Mainland China markets slumped: The Shanghai composite closed down 1.88 percent, or 57.965 points, at 3,020.937 and the Shenzhen composite shed 2.659 percent, or 57.965 points, to 1,977.057. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index slid 2.85 percent as of 3:15 pm HK/SIN time. While the Fed has given a jolt to markets worldwide, oil is expected to add an extra dampener on markets, with crude futures posting solid losses on Monday. Futures were lower on the back of increased oil drilling activity in the U.S., Reuters reported. U.S. West Texas Intermediate last stood around $44.86 per barrel, while Brent hovered around $47.02. No major economic data is expected to be released on Monday. Gold fell slightly on Monday as investors reassess the possibility of a Federal Reserve rate hike later this month. Spot gold held lower at $1,326.76 an ounce. futures fell 0.3 percent lower at $1,330.20 an ounce.